With Game Of Thrones, HBO hit the jackpot, creating one of the most successful series of all time. With this success came lots of confidence and a lot of money.
Our coverage of the many, many, prequel series in development over the years at HBO has been well-documented. However, in James Andrew Miller’s oral history Tinderbox, it’s revealed just how loose HBO was with its pockets during this time—spending $30 million on the creation of a pilot that went nowhere. For context, this number surpasses the hefty $10 million budget per episode of Game Of Thrones, and it will never arrive to viewers’ screens.
Bob Greenblatt, the former chairman of WarnerMedia entertainment, was interviewed for the book.
“They had spent over $30 million on a Game Of Thrones prequel pilot that was in production when I got there,” Greenblatt said. “And when I saw a cut of it a few months after I arrived, I said to Casey [Bloys], ‘This just doesn’t work and I don’t think it delivers on the promise of the original series.’ And he didn’t disagree, which actually was a relief.”
“So we unfortunately decided to pull the plug on it,” Greenblatt continued. “There was enormous pressure to get it right and I don’t think that would have worked.”
Of course, HBO ended up soon after green-lighting the production of 10 episodes for the prequel series House Of The Dragon, which is set to arrive in in 2022 and follows the the ancestors of the Targaryen family.
“I’m the one who encouraged Casey to green-light it to series,” Greenblatt told Miller. “I said, ‘Let’s not risk $30 million on a pilot.’ You can’t spend $30 million on a pilot and then not pick it up. So I said, ‘Let’s not make a pilot. Let’s get a great series that we feel good about, and just make it. Or not.’”